The last time we checked in with CONCACAF Kleptocrat-in-Chief Jack Warner, he was lunching at 10 Downing Street with the PM and then flying to Zurich where he put his arm around Prince WIliam and promised him that all three CONCACAF votes were solidly Englands' before walking into the meeting and voting for Russia.
Now in fact we all understand Englands' anger at being jerked around by a bunch of greedbags, liars and thieves, but personally I've never felt they had much of a complaint.
A couple of years ago Warner announced quite openly that England "must never get the World Cup". England ignored it and chose instead to be the guy in the bar who the pretty girls all hit up for drinks; they'll smile at him, let him spend his money on them and then go home with some punk with neck tatoos.
In the end Jack was true to his word, but not before forcing England to thoroughly debase themselves for almost two years. There's just no question that he loved every minute of it but there's also not much doubt that he was never, ever going to vote for them. It was self-delusion from the get-go.
Fast forward to last week and a lovely five star Montego Bay resort where the Caribbean Football Union showed him just how deeply they care about this kind of thing; he was re-elected for another four year term which wasn't surprising considering that, as always, he was running unopposed.
Replace Jack Warner? Why on Gods' Earth would they want to do that? As he himself reminded the Assembled Federation Presidents:
"each of you received over $1.3 million in the last four years".
Which of course for "countries" like The Turks and Caicos (population 18,122), Montserrat (9,341), Anguilla (14,254) and the British Virgin Island (19,100) - to name a few - is one whole hell of a lot more money than they were going to collect from, say, youth registrations or car washes. Or bake sales, unless Jamaica brings the brownies.
But after reminding his pet stooges of the largess which he alone is responsible for - or so they are only too happy to believe - he went on to vent a bit about the singular lack of return on his investment:
“In spite of the training courses, programmes and seminars funded by FIFA and CONCACAF, in spite of the FIFA grants received, your teams still remain the whipping boys and girls of the CONCACAF Confederation and the message I am here to deliver as ‘let’s shift the paradigm and bring glory to the CFU"
But since a solid two thirds of the "nations" in the CFU have populations smaller than that of Des Moines Iowa (200,000) it's hard to see how $1.3 million - or $13 million for that matter - can be spent in a manner which will make a country like Curacao (130,000) competitive with Mexico, Canada, the US, Honduras or El Salvador.
It simply can't be done no matter how many national headquarters buildings or training centers or stadiums you build them. I'm not any kind of geneticist but even I can see that the odds of a country with a population base of 100,000 people cranking out a world class soccer team are beyond astronomical.
This whole bogus "raising the level of Caribbean football" meme is of course what was behind the recent changes in CONCACAF qualifying procedure, the theory being that the reason St. Kitts and Nevis (38,756) didn't kick off in South Africa last June is because their national team didn't get enough "high level games".
In actuality of course they could join UEFA and play 50 internationals a year forever and it wouldn't make a lick of difference. Everybody understands that the sole reason for the change is so that these flyspeck island countries can host more internationals and pocket more money.
But we're asked to buy into the idea that if Warner can get Antigua (69,481) a few games with the US and Honduras they'll be able to learn the lessons inherent in being beaten 15-0 and eventually take their place among the giants of the game.
(How Mexico and the US are supposed to take their place amongst the giants of the game when their opponents n qualifying couldn't beat the College of Charleston or the Richmond Kickers remains unexplained. I'd love to ask Sunil the Spineless or his pal the "American" Chuck Blazer)
In any case, Uncle Jack has bigger fish to fry than figuring out how to get Aruba (100,008) into the field of 32 for Brazil '14. Several of them in fact.
First up of course is the quarterly FIFA ExCo meeting later this week - the last one was such a smash hit that they probably would just as soon skip this one if it weren't for the food, the booze and the hookers.
The big item on the agenda this time around is the allocation of World Cup slots among the various Confederations, and how Jack is determined to get the 3 1/2 spots CONCACAF had last time changed to a solid 4. As he told his assembled puppets:
"We believe that CONCACAF deserves another full place at the World Cup finals due to the performances of our teams on the field and the actions of our confederation off it
I'm not sure what "performances...on the field" he's referring to exactly but "actions of our Confederation off it" is even more mystifying. Is he saying that because CONCACAF runs some really nifty referee clinics and coaching seminars that therefore they deserve another full slot?
However that may be, there are four confederations who want those two extra spots, one of which was split between us and South America last time around. The big issue now is that CONMEBOL wants Brazil excluded from their total like South Africa was, which gave the CAF six spots instead of their usual 5 in 2010. It's a nice little theory but the hosts had almost no chance of qualifying any other way and Brazil - well, let's just say they're usually a pretty good bet to make it in without needing charity.
However, this particular issue goes beyond the simple "We want more spots" arguments which are more or less constant pleas from everybody, every four years.
In this case, Warner has three reasons why he badly wants - needs - that other 1/2 slot:
1) The justification for blindly voting for and following Jack Warner and obeying his every whim and keeping your mouth shut is that he has enormous power within FIFA and can deliver the goods when the chips are down.
If, say, South America winds up with another spot instead - or even we stay at 3 1/2 - then Warner will have been publicly beaten, which undermines his mystique and his authority. Without his supposed power within the ExCo he's just another thug and he knows it.
2) After having openly shafted the bigger CONCACAF federations with the new qualifying scheme, he needs this as a sort of recompense. Another full slot means that one of the big four can stumble pretty badly and still manage to get into the field of 32 without the risks of a playoff with somebody. Call it insurance.
3) Another full slot also lessens to some extent the ridiculously long odds against a CFU country sneaking into the finals once in a while. In reality the only ones who stand to gain in this scenario are Jamaica and T&T but it lets the little guys dream a little. If all they're wishing for is a chance at a playoff match with the sixth CONMEBOL team - last time it was Uruguay - then it doesn't provide much hope.
It's critical to Warner that he deliver that last full spot. Under normal circumstances he might not be so concerned but this time around he's go some serious problems:
- Courtesy of BigSoccer Commandatore Pablo Chicago last week came the startling news that FIFA IS INVESTIGATING WARNERS' TICKET DEALS once again. It seems that despite their denials regarding the evidence that Norwegian newspaper stumbled across last Fall, Zurich has indeed opened an ethics committee investigation.
The odd thing is that they didn't really have to. There was a small kerfuffle at the time but most world sports media simply ignored it - World Famous Crusading Soccer Reformer Grant Wahl (to pick an example entirely at random) never said a single word about it - and it was a dead issue.
Who ordered the investigation - six months later - and why is a matter that has yet to be revealed but a finding that Warner has once again violated one of the most serious FIFA commandments could spell real trouble. Last time he was fined a million dollars (they pretended they were fining his travel agency, which wouldn't have had a chance in hell of grabbing 5000 tickets if not fo him) and Sepp Blatter announced that FIFA had "forgiven" him.
But with the current worldwide focus on corruption at the top, and with bin Hammam hot on his tail, it will be tough for Blatter to give him another pass this time around.
- The jig is finally up with regard to the money he blatantly stole from T&Ts' players five years ago.
An appeals court has ruled that the TTFF MUST IMMEDIATELY START HANDING OVER SOME MONEY and Jack has apparently thrown in the towel.
Listen to this whinging and marvel at the sheer audacity of the man Sunil Gulati keeps casting the United States' vote - not Gulati's vote, OUR vote - for and be amazed:
"I am not involved in that, you know, the TTFF will have to decide. I imagine they will appeal, I really don't know. I haven't spoken to the TTFF..
"I have taken myself out of that a long time ago. They had asked for $100 million, at one time was $50 million, then it came to $20 million, one month ago it was $10 million, now the courts says $6 million, okay.
"If I were to advise the TTFF, I would tell them of course to give it to them and call it a day, because at the end of the day this thing is just protracted, a waste of time and in the end nobody will believe it."
Stunning. He cut the deal with the players, his son deposited the money in a personal account that no longer exists and he's the one who's been fighting them tooth and nail all this time.
Now all of a sudden he's "out of that" and "if I were to advise the TTFF" and "the TTFF will have to decide"?
The TTFF hasn't taken a good dump in 20 years without a written authorization from Jack Warner and suddenly he's not involved?
Literally beyond belief.
The point though is that if he's talking this way it means that he knows they're going to have to pay up, although where they'll get the money is a mystery since Warner stole it in 2006.
Which means he's lost, he knows he's lost and he's trying to pretend it's someone elses' problem not his when everyone on Earth knows exactly who runs the T&T federation: "Special Adviser Jack Warner" who now acts like he barely knows who they are.
So Jack has some serious problems at the moment. It's a bad time to be the most visible and public face of FIFA corruption. The ExCo and Sepp Blatter would like nothing better than to throw the world a very juicy bone to prove how serious they are about cleaning things up.
And Warner would certainly fill the bill, a fact which the crafty old pirate knows better than anyone.